Metro-East News

No payless pay days for East St. Louis, city manager says

East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks
East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks News-Democrat

City Manager Alvin L. Parks says there is no truth to rumors circulating through City Hall that Dec. 30 will be the last payday for some employees and that there will be payless pay days beginning in January.

Parks said the rumors probably came after a staff meeting that was held Wednesday at which the topics were “tightening of the belt when it comes to cash management and spending.”

Parks said the city needs to almost eliminate spending. “There was no discussion in any way of layoffs or payless pay days,” he said. But he did say that the 17 employes who have been laid off since he was hired will not be the last.

“Unfortunately, there will be additional layoffs,” he said.

Parks said he expects to do more layoffs later this month. Asked how much money the city has saved with the layoffs, Parks said about $1 million.

“The city has to use austerity in managing its budget and cash management,” he said. “The state is withholding the city’s money (gaming revenue). That’s huge. When you have a budget as fragile as ours, that makes for a very challenging situation. Our revenue is not keeping up with our expenses.”

Parks also said he has to take some of the blame for the financial situation in East St. Louis. He was mayor for eight years.

“We tried so hard to keep the number of police and firemen we had all of these years. I played a role in stretching and stretching to meet the needs of public health and safety. That made us go into reserves.”

He said the city was faced with back pay, differential pay, step pay and outstanding longevity pay. “We had to meet the obligation of the fire and police contracts. “We had a lot of obligations that we paid.”

Unfortunately, there will be additional layoffs.

Alvin L. Parks, East St. Louis city manager

Parks added, “We went into all kinds of places to make sure we had firemen and policemen. We no longer have he people that we had then. And, we don’t have the revenue we had then,” he said.

To save money, the city is looking to cut contracts, legal fees, and insurance premiums, he said.

Currently, the city has an 80/20 insurance premium for employees’ health insurance benefits. But Parks said the city is looking at paying 100 percent in exchange for employees having a higher deductible.

Currently, the city is spending close to $60,000 a year on legal fees. “We get a lot of good legal advice, but we have to find a less-expensive way of getting it,” Parks said. “The cost of doing business has to go down.”

Bottom line: There are no plans to ask employees to work without getting paid, he said.

“We are not looking to have people wonder whether they will get paid. We plan to meet the obligation we have,” he said.

But stabilize the city’s financial condition, Parks said the city has to bring business to town, build houses and have quality public safety. Having quality public safety will attract more businesses to East St. Louis, Parks said.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503